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Nutrition Series: Volume 1, Article 1 – Protein – What, Why, & How Much?

OUR GOAL FOR YOU

Our goal at RADD CrossFit is to help you improve the quality of your life. We’ve reintroduced our blog series with two goals in mind. One is to educate you on the best practices for making better health choices, and two is to encourage you to take action and put our suggestions to the test for your health and vitality. We firmly believe that if you follow our blog and put some of these practices to work you’ll be able to get pretty good results. 

How does that sound? We’re trying to increase our reach and start coaching you without us having to break a sweat. We do want you to understand that we are here for you. If you need more help, or are struggling to push past your plateau just visit our contact us page and we’ll help you get “unstuck.” 

VOLUME 1, ARTICLE 1: PROTEIN – WHAT, WHY, & HOW MUCH?

Our first series will focus on one of the three macronutrients we use to fuel our body. We’re talking about protein. What is protein? How do we digest it? Why do we need it? What are the best choices for me? How much should I eat? How can I create better eating habits with protein? All of these questions, and more, will be answered in our full series on protein. 

What is protein?

The smallest unit of protein is the amino acid. When joined together they form peptide chains that make up the primary protein structure. When we digest protein they get broken down into small peptides and amino acids. We can use these to build new things like cells. This is why protein is often called the “building blocks of life.” 

Why is it important to get enough protein?

Protein is often called the “building blocks of life” because it is the primary source of building muscle and lean mass. When you eat the right amount of protein you will feel satisfied from meals, you’ll feel stronger, recover better, build lean mass and muscle.

Too little protein and you might not:

  • feel satisfied or full after your meal
  • recover well
  • build lean mass and muscle

Too much protein and you might:

  • feel overfull after your meal

The right amount is different for everyone. To determine how much is enough means paying attention to your internal and external signals. Feeling overly full? You might have eaten too much, but this metric won’t matter unless you have an idea of how much you ate. Tracking doesn’t mean you have to weigh and measure your food with a food scale at each meal, but we will get to that in a bit. 

How can you begin to determine how much is enough for you? 

  1. Determine Your Goals

Do you want to gain muscle, lose weight, lose fat, live forever? Write down your goals and be clear on why it is important for you to achieve it. If you don’t have a purpose for achieving your goal you will find excuses when making changes becomes challenging. 

  1. Determine Where You Are

You can’t buy a house without reviewing your finances and seeing how much you can afford. Nutrition is no different. You have to have a clear understanding of what your eating habits are. I suggest hand-writing a food log for a week. Once the week is over go back and highlight or identify all of the protein sources to determine your daily average. 

When I review a client’s food log I will look to see if they are eating “enough” protein. My suggestions for their protein amount will depend on A LOT of things including their current habits, goals, challenges, restrictions, beliefs, and much more. 

  1. Take Action

Most people eat an average of 3-4 meals per day. For protein servings most people will do best with 1-2 servings of protein at each meal. This can add up to 3-10 servings per day. Yes, that is a wide range, but it’s important to understand that everyone is different. 

How much is a serving? Use the palm of your hand to estimate serving size. This is a great way to start tracking how much protein you’re eating without having to break out a scale. 

1 Palm Sized Portion of Protein = 1 Serving

How can you take action? Look at where you are. Are you only having 2 servings of protein per day? Do you have 12 servings per day? How does this make you feel? How is it working for you? Is it helping you reach your goals? If not, an experiment with more or less can help. 

My recommendation would be to increase or decrease your protein intake, but remember, BABY STEPS! If you need more, increase by one serving per day. If you need less, decrease by one serving per day. Try it for 4-6 weeks. 

  1. Determine if it is Working and Adjust if Needed

At each meal begin to determine how the amount of protein affects your physical, emotional, and mental performance throughout the day? What patterns do you notice?

How much do you like to eat? And how much do you need to eat?

Internal signals tell you how hungry you feel, biologically vs. psychologically. Being able to read those signals accurately is what allows you to self-regulate your hunger: to be able to satisfy your needs in the moment.

What are your internal signals that you’re eating enough protein?

You can journal after each meal of what protein feels like. What does too little, too much, and just enough feel like for you?

You can use this information to determine the appropriate hand portions per meal and you’ll be able to practice it consistently.

REMEMBER

Experiment with this until you determine what “enough” means for you per meal and daily. Remember, no matter how much protein you put on your plate to start, you can always listen to body signals along the way, and adapt in the moment.

Whenever you’re unsure, you always have this guideline: eat until you are just satisfied.

ACTION ITEMS

  1. Complete the 4 steps outlined above. Use a notebook to track your goals, complete your food log, and food journal.
  2. Change the plan until it works.
  3. Contact us if you need more help

Coach Dan

NEED MORE HELP

Remember, our goal is to help you improve the quality of your life. If you want more information or are feeling stuck, please visit our contact page and ask us. We’re happy to help!

References: https://www.precisionnutrition.com/

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